My Political Journey: Catboy Deleuze
Posted by <Catboy Deleuze> on 2021-09-15
Part of a series on My Political Journey
I grew up in the culture of 4chan in its final days, around 2014 to 2016. Back then I spent most of my time partying, doing drugs, shitposting and thinking about killing myself. I was expelled from two high schools for violence and drug use. 4chan culture, at least in those years, had a good sense of community. It was contrarian but not in a sterile way and its boards hadn’t yet fully elaborated their canons. For example: /mu/core was still in the process of defining itself and this meant everyone was trying to come up with the best recommendations for music. It was an era of true contradiction because there was no higher authority, no social game, no external relation to refer to. Essentially horizontal, but retaining difference in power; nietzschean communism. The edginess is what really ruined 4chan, and you could always tell it was the doing of people attracted to the idea of 4chan, rather than just its users.
As I had spent most of my school time in detention, in therapist and psychiatrist offices or in special classes for autistic and disabled children, I had plenty of free time. I read most of western classics by the time I turned 16. I had no politics but an absolute rejection of everything. I hated capitalism, all forms of authority, and all movements. The right and the left disgusted me, as movements. My experience with anarchists had left me convinced that they were endless moralizers. I mostly just got wasted with my friends and engaged in vandalism, which got me arrested about a dozen times. I did some 200 hours of community service when I was arrested for destroying an important fountain. Most of all I hated cops — that hasn’t changed. Back then I read Nietzsche and Stirner, Rimbaud and Novalis, Spinoza and Bataille.
My college’s socialist student union kicked me out because I was always wasted at their meetings and caused trouble at General Assemblies. My opinion on General Assemblies hasn’t changed since then either. Eventually the college kicked me out too.
I first encountered reactionaries on twitter, through Million Dollar Extreme (which wasn’t yet what it later became). Though I was drawn to their memes and humor, I felt contempt for their ‘groupthink’ and disgust at their homophobia and racism. Before I could get drawn into it, an IRL friend presented me with Anti-Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. It changed my life.
I spent two years tarrying with the negative, mostly fighting reactionaries on twitter and opposing left-nietzschean ethics of joy to their sad shit. “The left has no ethics,” Tiqqun wrote somewhere, “they only have morals.” But no one gives a shit about morals. The fascists win people over because they provide them with ethics, a way of life. The will will rather will nothingness than will nothing.
Fighting the reactionaries was tiring, but since I know more than them on their favorite subjects, there was perverse enjoyment in owning them on their own turf. Eventually I was suspended from Twitter, and as I had been receiving death threats for a while, I decided to just leave. I don’t like the term ‘de-radicalization’ but I believe I helped some people, maybe two dozen. There were some great encounters there, some friendships were formed, and it was possible to create some sort of community that actively fought reactionaries from a Nietzschean, non-moralistic position which could actually convince them. But my experience of twitter has been overwhelmingly negative. It is a hysterical platform and it makes everyone hysterical. Its algorithm draws out and empowers a reactionary rabble on which it then cracks down—its own creation—with authoritarian measures that only serve to further alienate and radicalize them. All reactionary ideas are born of alienation, and alienation is a capitalist phenomenon. Whenever we encourage the further alienation of reactionaries, capitalism wins.
I never voted and never will. I have had an instinctual scorn for bourgeois politics since my early teens. And so I believe social media, precisely because it is a capitalist tool, can hold some real power for educating, reaching out, and linking up. Social media of course isn’t real, but then nothing under capitalism is real.
During my years in the service industry, I developed a pretty pervasive coke habit. Not as damaging as the molly and amphetamines of my teens—I still have HPPD from MDMA—but more expensive. I was truly desperate. I mostly stopped reading, save for Saint-Simon (the 17th century one), Rabelais, and some Renaissance literature. Retreating from the world. I thought about killing myself on a daily, hourly basis. Getting off twitter did improve my mental health, and gave me respite from constant fights, but it’s still while I was on twitter, around 2018, that from Deleuze, I branched out into Marx and Agamben. I only came to Marxism through Nietzsche and Deleuze, and I do not think of it as adding a Nietzschean edge to Marx, rather I formulate Nietzsche through Marx. Essentially what Deleuze-Guattari did.
Today I live in San Francisco and life is better. I no longer need to take my antidepressants. My goal is mostly to formulate communist ethics free of any morality and resentment. I believe social media, as a tool of atomization and alienation, provides us with an incredible occasion to communize knowledge and organize ourselves. And as to this atomization we witness, I believe we should accelerate the process into an abolition of the individual, of petty bourgeois subjectivity. This is what we call “pitchfork theory,” which is simply the realization that any tool of exploitation, just like a pitchfork, can be converted into a weapon of emancipation.
This realization is an ethical one, because it relies on a different relation to our world in everyday life, a relation that is based, based on an immanent contact with becoming. Becoming, as the real movement of things, is simply communism. De-oedipianization is what allows us to grasp becoming; and thus to escape capitalism. But as we escape, we look for weapons.